Re-enchanting our world with angels

This greeting-card image is not my idea of a heavenly soldier, but she is beautiful!
No, this greeting-card image is not my idea of a heavenly soldier, but she is beautiful!

Christianity Today‘s “Her•Meneutics” blog knocks it out of the park again with this post from Tish Harrison Warren called, “Angels We Ignore on High.” It resonates with me because of my own “conversion” over the past few years to a full-throttled and fully biblical belief in a spiritual realm of angels and demons. Even in the scripture I’ll preach tonight, the classic Christmas Eve text Luke 2:1-20, it’s not those waifish cherubs straight from a Precious Moments nativity set who come to visit the shepherds abiding in the field. Rather, it’s literally an “army” of spiritual beings (usually translated “heavenly host”) who must say, “Fear not,” because they are fearsome.

An army exists to fight. And what are they fighting for? Our very souls.

They’re fighting the battles that Paul describes in Ephesians 6:10-17. Let’s believe in them. Let’s be grateful for them. Let’s even ask God to send them our way when we need them. And by all means, let’s be reminded that, like it or not, we are in a war whose adversaries we often can’t see.

My world has been “re-enchanted”:

A few years ago, I heard an interview with the British theologian John Milbank, where he said, “I believe in all this fantastic stuff. I’m really bitterly opposed to… disenchantment in the modern churches, including I think among most modern evangelicals.”

He told a story about the Nottingham diocese in England, which he described as “a very evangelical diocese.” They had received a request to participate in a radio show about angels. They surveyed their clergy, asking, “Is there anyone around who still believes in angels enough to talk about this?”

Milbank chastised the diocese saying, “Now in my view, this is scandalous. They shouldn’t even be ordained if they can’t give a cogent account of the angelic and its place in the divine economy.” He called for a re-enchantment of the church, that we should believe, confess, embrace, and admit all of Scripture and much of church tradition—even the weird stuff…

Somehow, from the deep recesses of my church upbringing, this belief in angels came bubbling up to the surface. I realized slowly that I was increasingly thinking about angels and that I found them amazing and fierce and faithful. I found great comfort in the belief that there were created beings, like me but not like me, who spent their time worshipping and serving God. I looked into them more in the Bible.

So I’m coming out of the closet: I believe in angels.

Yep. Me too.

4 thoughts on “Re-enchanting our world with angels”

  1. Brent, I’ve really been enjoying your blog. We are very close theologically, it would seem. You’ll forgive me if in the near future I blog as well on angels. I’d been thinking about it, and your post nudged me over the edge! Keep up the good work, brother, and enjoy that 8 track player. You may need to visit obscure Salvation Army thrift stores, however, to find old Bill Gaither, Englebert Humperdink and Sonny and Cher 8 track cassettes!

    1. Thanks so much, Greg! Sadly, I haven’t seen 8-tracks at thrift stores recently. But that’s what eBay is for, right?

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